IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa DT Jaleel Johnson was picked by the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth round on Saturday at No. 109.
Johnson closed out his college career playing his best football and is now in position to hear his name called on Friday … or perhaps Saturday.
Who is Jaleel Johnson: 5 things to know
He can get in the backfield
Arguably Johnson’s biggest strengths are his speed and athleticism. He moves better than expected for a 6-foot-3, 316-pound man and it helps him make highlight-worthy plays behind the line of scrimmage. Johnson projects more as a 3-technique tackle than a run-stuffing nose guard at the next level.
His draft stock rose during his senior year
Johnson was an on-the-radar-type of prospect for NFL executives entering the 2016 season, Iowa CB Desmond King and QB C.J. Beathard garnering more preseason attention. NFL scouts came around on Johnson following a strong senior season where he earned All-Big Ten first-team accolades. He also improved his draft by posting the fastest time for a defensive tackle at the Senior Bowl.
His Michigan performance helped him as much as anything
Iowa’s biggest game in 2016 came in prime time against No. 3 Michigan. The Hawkeyes won 14-13 in November and Johnson was one of the biggest reasons for the upset. He led Iowa with 9 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and 1 sack. He spent a lot of the game in the Michigan backfield, showing the different ways he can impact a game on the interior line … such as this second-quarter safety.
— FanSportsClips (@FanSportsClips) November 13, 2016
He anchored Iowa’s defense last season
Johnson, along with King and LB Josey Jewell, formed the nucleus of an Iowa defense which allowed 18.8 points per game last season. If Johnson played well, so did the defensive line — and run defense. He made 55 tackles and led the Hawkeyes with 10 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.
NFL teams like Iowa players
Coach Kirk Ferentz has had 53 players drafted in the NFL since 2003. Iowa is known as offensive line factory, but NFL teams continually pull talent from Iowa at other positions, including defensive line.